Mangoma’s hopes dashed

elton_mangomaHARARE - Zimbabwe's Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma's hopes of going home were dashed on Tuesday when a High Court judge's bail warrant was vetoed by the State. (Pictured: Elton Mangoma)

High Court Judge, Justice Yunus Omerjee had granted Mangoma US$5 000 bail and stringent bail conditions. State prosecutors then tried to obtain a court order stopping Mangoma from reporting for work at his government offices while out on bail. Justice Omerjee shot down the request. The State team then invoked Section 121 Sub Section 3 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to invalidate the bail.

The move left the packed courtroom stunned. Just minutes after veteran lawyer Selby Hwacha made an impassioned plea for the Movement for Democratic Change deputy treasurer general’s immediate release on bail, the invocation for the notorious Section 121 that allows the State to keep an accused person in custody for a further seven days left the crowd in the hushed confines of Harare’s old colonial High Court gasping. Hwacha pleaded with the court to grant the minister’s release on bail but Justice Omerjee said his hands were “tied.”

The State’s move left defence lawyers crestfallen as they watched Omerjee leave the courtroom. Mangoma was led back to remand prison. Mangoma is facing criminal charges of abusing public office by allegedly irregularly awarding a multi-million tender to purchase electricity meters for the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa to Deloitte, a company that used to employ him as general manager.

In his bail application, Mangoma denied cancelling and withdrawing the tender process. Hon. Mangoma was arrested on Friday and charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer as defined in Section 174 (1) (a) as read with Section 174 (2) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

The State case is that Mangoma unlawfully and intentionally abused his public office for the purpose of showing disfavor to some local and South African companies, which had participated in a tender for the supply and delivery of prepayment revenue management system meters and associated equipment.

Prosecutors said Mangoma unlawfully instructed ZESA Holdings board chairman Dr Noah Madziva, former ZESA Holdings chief executive officer Benjamin Rafemoyo and the State Procurement Board to stall the tender for the supply of prepaid electricity meters after adjudication, an action the State says effectively cancelled a tender awaiting announcement of the winner.

He then allegedly granted the bid to his choice firm, which he says could supply “smart meters” not the old meters the comapnies that had been invited to bid were prepared to supply. Mangoma is back in remand prison for an extra seven days, in an arrest that is said to be linked to the election for a new Speaker on Tuesday. His arrest was reportedly aimed at slashing the MDC’s voting strength.

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